The State Policy Pilot Program - or SP3 for short - was a three-year initiative based out of the Arts Education Program at Americans for the Arts. Developed in alignment with the national shift towards state-level educational policymaking, the program focused on a three-pronged approach of utilizing data, networking and knowledge sharing, and working with states. Its objective was to enable the development of leadership in state-level policy-makers advocates, researchers, and grantmakers towards developing achievable policy pursuits and sustainable advocacy infrastructures.
Through SP3, Americans for the Arts hoped to foster a nationwide culture of policy literacy and advocacy empowerment for arts and education leaders across the country with the ultimate goals of:
- advancing arts education by influencing implementation of federal mandates or programs at the state level;
- expanding state support of arts education in policy and appropriations; and
- impacting local access to arts programs and instruction for students.
The program concluded in Summer 2017 and the findings were shared at the State Policy Pilot Program Summit, which was held in Denver, CO in November 2017. The results of this program include numerous reports, case studies, and a network of state leaders ready to enact policy change and advocacy initiatives to advance arts education across the nation. The intention of these tools and resources is to provide greater policy literacy and understanding of how other states and stakeholders can undertake similar advocacy efforts for statewide policy advancement.
Strategy 1: Utilizing Data
In Strategy 1: Utilizing Data, the underpinning research for SP3 was conducted by a series of researchers from 2013-2015 and manifested itself in a several reports surveying current research available on state data sets regarding arts education, the arts education policies (and implementation of those policies) in every state, and the effectiveness of federally funded programs supported by those policies in local communities:
The State Status Report: A Review of State and Regional Arts Education Studies by Yael Z. Silk, Ed.M. and Stacey Mahan, Ed.M. of Silk Strategic Arts LLC and Robert Morrison of Quadrant Research
These reports identified national trends and articulated the federal-state-local implementation pathways from national policy to school-based implementation. The findings stimulate interesting discussion among state-level stakeholders and can inform the practices in policy development or advocacy strategy essential to advancing arts education across the nation.
Strategy 2: Networking and Knowledge Sharing
In Strategy 2: Networking and Knowledge Sharing, Americans for the Arts brought together representatives from the ten state teams on a biannual basis from Fall 2014 – Spring 2017 to foster knowledge sharing and networking with adjacent national networks.
During SP3’s biannual meetings, peer-to-peer knowledge exchange was guided through presentations, visitations, and support for collaboration. Program leaders created an environment in which cross-state policy opportunities could emerge. As the states learned about the policy successes of their peers, several acted upon the chance to adapt the experiences to their own state contexts.
Strategy 3: Working With States
In Strategy 3: Working with States, Americans for the Arts aimed to select ten states which operated in vastly different educational and political contexts, representing a diverse array of expertise and advancement in the field of arts education. The state teams understood that participation involved collaboration across agencies within their states and commitment to developing and implementing a policy strategy. Each state was expected to form a state team to steer the project—drawing from state education agencies, state arts councils, members of advocacy networks, and elected officials. State teams created written action plans at the outset of the three years, updated those plans annually in response to changing contexts, and prepared culminating case studies that described what worked well and what did not. State teams received grants of $10,000 per year as well as travel stipends for two team members to attend biannual SP3 gatherings as well as additional support for project-specific needs as required. Additionally, Americans for the Arts provided each state team with customized coaching and technical assistance throughout the three-year pilot, via web-based tools, site visits, and funding for portions of their statewide initiatives.
Pilot cohort states included: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Wyoming
Each state produced a number of products including a case study, a project narrative, and a collection of supplemental materials, found on each state’s page.